Life these days is pretty easy. Essentially everything we have was made to provide a sort of convenience for us. Marketers needed something to do and they figured it out; they created a "need" and we bought in. This is nothing new. But I certainly think we all forget how good we have it when we can drive to the grocery store in a car to pick up food, we didn't grow, and then to go home, to a house we didn't build, that is heated by fuel we didn't have to collect. Life is good. Cars and grocery stores were created to make our lives easier and more convenient. Especially for the masses living in urban centers. Since so much of what we do and have was created to make our lives more comfortable I am wondering if it has made us any happier. I know it is hard to tell, given that we haven't had to live a life without modern conveniences, but do you think it has made us any happier?Read More
Why? Why do I want to live off the grid, in the back country, growing my own food, and working outside all day? Why, oh, why? Yeah, you probably already know the answer to this because you have that same feeling in the pit of your stomach, the same feeling that I will describe for you in five bulletin points. You got it, The Five Reasons I Want to Live In the Country, and no, having a horse or being a horse 'person' is not on that list. Sorry horse people.
1. Hearing the song Mushaboom*
Years ago, in high-school, I had a friend who lived in the country, an hour outside of Ottawa, where I grew up. Her parents had the cutest place on a small lake with a big garden, and we would go there and party mostly, but we would also drink tea and look out the big windows and listen to old records, and it was great. And before that, in primary school, my best friend and I would watch Martha Stewart marathons and we both wanted to be her so badly. Well, her, but cooler. Wanting to be Martha and live how my friend did in the country did not formalize into a homesteading dream until I heard Mushaboom. I'm pretty sure I was living in Northern BC at the time, and that song spoke to me, I thought Leslie Feist wrote it for me. Like she stepped into my mind and pulled out all of my dreams I hadn't dreamt yet and wrote a song about it. The dirt rode, knee deep snow, watching the fire as we grow? That was it, I was sold. And then the staff at the pub where I worked, put the song on the evening playlist and I listened to it on repeat for five years, forever cementing that dream in my mind. And it wasn't until years later, when I met my partner, that I realized that dream was possible.Read More
When we first moved from our cute townhouse in the ‘burbs to our older bungalow in town, we instantly noticed how fabulous our neighbours were. They gave us the history on our house and were so happy we weren’t crack heads. They are funny and helpful and look after our cat. They have even cleared our driveway of snow on more than one occasion. We genuinely couldn’t imagine better neighbours. And as luck would have it, when we purchased our homestead in Vavenby, we won the neighbour lottery again!
As an adult from Ontario living in Alberta, I sometimes find that I am alone in my leftists sentiments. For the first time in my life I longed for the company of like-minded people. And this is part of the reason that my partner and I are seeking this homesteading future – so we can connect with like-minded people who feel the same way we do about working hard, growing food, and enjoying our natural environment. And as I explained in an earlier post, we did establish that there was at least one person in the area that was like-minded (aka the cord lady), but we had no idea to what extent we had found like-minded people. You see, after we returned from the farmer’s market we met our neighbour from across the street who can build log homes and owns a tractor. That day he took us for a walk around our property to show us our cedar shake mill (we did not know we owned,) our coyote den, our trickling stream, and our extensive trails throughout the property. He is retired. Reads probably more than you would think a librarian would. Makes wicked cherry pie and does not believe in working for money in his retirement years. He is awesome. He has been looking after our house for the four years before we owned it and continues to look after it even now that we own it. We have had long chats about having a neighbourhood where each home would contribute in its own way to the community. For example, I was thinking about making cheese and that could be my contribution, and another neighbour could fix tractors, and maybe another could grow the garlic and asparagus. You can see how these conversations would be so thrilling for us leftists who have been submerged in a more right-wing city lifestyle for so long. And it does not end there. Our other neighbours up the street have a home with geothermal heat! Renewable energy is my middle name. And that’s not all, there is a couple at the end of the street who make just about everything you can think of from scratch. They grow everything. They lend us brilliant books like Keeping The Harvest, (which is also listed as one of my bookshelf staples – until I have to return it, of course,) and they have a million copies of Mother Earth News. *
I think one of my favourite things about this fantastic neighbourhood, is that in the few trips we have had down there, we have had so many neighbour get-together. It could be at the end of our driveway, at someone’s house, or on one of the trails. And we just all talk and talk. We talk about tricks and tips to using up all the apples on our trees or growing garlic, we talk about our dislike of fancy pants lifestyles or how to make a good batch of wine. We just talk and talk. Life moves at a different pace down there and our neighbours know how to do it. They are living THE life and we want to hear all about it.
Apple tree from our property.
So it isn’t just about that land, it’s about the people too. And they are awesome.
And you know what, until we live down there, we really do have it made. Our one set of neighbours up here plans to have a country lifestyle one day too AND her sister did homestead for a short stint so we gab about that as well. Our other neighbour has great gardening tips on growing the best tomatoes, which he generously shares (meaning the tips and the tomatoes). Unfortunately, we don’t see our neighbours up here as often as we like; my partner works really long days, for long periods, and so this cuts in to my neighbourhood dinner party plans. But that’s okay, we still get to chat at the end of our driveways while we shovel the daily snowfall. Which reminds me, I better get out there to clear the sidewalk…
*I could list the hundreds of other great things about our neighbours in Vavenby, but that would be far too long and indulgent. I will just mention a very few things I missed: lending us their juicer, cutting down our big trees that were about to hit our power line, checking our oil tank to make sure the house has heat, making jam, more jam, pie, coffee, borscht lending us cutlery, chairs, and even more books.
**This post isn’t how to pick amazing neighbours, it is more about how they pick you.